The secret to establishing or changing a habit is determination
Let’s talk about the truth when it comes to behavior, whether you aim to develop a healthy habit or break a harmful one.
Do any of these statements sound familiar? “I’ll start exercising this month.” “I’m too set in my ways to start a new habit.” “I tried it once and gave up.” Many of you have likely either said these phrases or overheard others saying them. Habits are a hot topic of conversation, but there are numerous myths surrounding them that hold people back from making significant changes in their lives.
It is crucial to challenge these misconceptions about habit formation and approach them with a fresh mindset. While we’re at it, let’s discuss some practical strategies that you can employ to establish new habits.
#1. Strong Determination
Merely relying on your willpower to resist doing something (or to adopt a new behavior) will be challenging if you continue to be in the same environment. For example, let’s say you enjoy smoking “just one cigarette” whenever you visit a particular place. Despite your best efforts to break the habit, it will resurface as soon as you go there. Deciding to simply stop doing something doesn’t work because the locations where you used to smoke will constantly remind you of your old behavior.
However, if you go somewhere unfamiliar where you don’t associate with smoking, you might not feel the urge right away. “Focus on the environment and how to structure it,” advises Wood, instead of putting all your attention on your determination or willpower. It can be as simple as keeping nutritious foods within reach or leaving your phone plugged in at home to make it harder to constantly check it.
#2. Follow Routines
Most people think routines are about rigidity. Those who find it difficult to stick to a strict structure believe they will rebel against it. However, even the most basic activities we engage in, such as eating and getting dressed, are all routines. If you find your routines monotonous, it may be because you’re the one making them that way. Our lives are made up of routines. If you want to enjoy your existence, incorporate some fun into your daily activities.
#3. Avoid Excuses
Learning knows no age limit. Yet, many adults use this as an excuse when it comes to acquiring new skills or knowledge. It is often employed as a defense mechanism due to some individuals’ fear of exerting effort. In this case, it’s essential to understand the benefits that a routine can bring to a person. A person is more likely to stick to a habit if they can personally gain from it.
#4. Reward Motivation
Establishing routines through rewards and punishments is not an optimal approach. Trying to create habits solely through daily incentives is also impractical. First, the rewards must align with your desire to establish a habit. You can’t “have a cookie” after completing a challenging workout. On the other hand, if someone fails to stick to a pattern, they often impose punishments like “donate 100 rupees” or something similar. It’s important to recognize that as human beings, we gravitate towards immediate gratification and are less concerned about future consequences. Motivation, especially driven by rewards and punishments, is not a reliable way to establish a habit as it is treated lightly.
If you miss a day of your routine, don’t be too hard on yourself and punish yourself. There may be various reasons why a person is unable to follow through with a task, such as stress or a bad mood. It’s important to show self-compassion and stop viewing routines as a form of punishment. Instead, you can follow one of my guiding principles for creating routines: “Never skip two days in a row.” This allows you to give yourself some time and space without causing a major disruption in your routine.
One of the biggest misconceptions that needs to be debunked is the idea that you can simply mimic the habits of successful individuals and achieve their level of success. Routines cannot be blindly copied. Each person has a specific purpose behind the routines they adhere to. One businessperson may wake up at 4 a.m., while another may go to bed at that time. Athletes may require 12 hours of sleep per night. Routines are established for various reasons. It is not advisable to follow routines without understanding the “why” behind them. Choose and adapt habits that suit your lifestyle. Start small and design your own journey.
Without a solid plan to turn ideas into habits, resolutions are simply wishful thinking. Those who succeed in keeping their New Year’s resolutions have figured out a way to transform them into habits. The beginning of the year is when most resolutions fizzle out due to a lack of effort in establishing routines.
In conclusion, routines are crucial and must be based on specific concepts of routine formation. Embracing positive habits is the only way to bring about meaningful change in your life.
The secret to establishing or changing a habit is determination. Consistently doing something every day is how you develop a habit. Once you realize the benefits it brings, making a habit out of something becomes easier. When a habit remains consistent for a long time, it becomes permanent.
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